There’s a wondrous article in the NYT today about a woman with schizoaffective disorder and OCD who after years of struggling and misdiagnoses found a workplace where she could put her high intellect and skill sets to use in an environment where she could also be open about her impairments and get the reassurance she needs– and the time off to manage and cope– so she can keep on functioning. Highly.
Would that we could all struggle to a place of such wondrous, open-hearted … not lucky, but opportunity-filled places where we could find time and space realize our true, broken, authentic, brave, smart, sometimes crazy selves.
My bookstore isn’t quite all of that place, since it’s not quite the challenge to my intellect that it could be– but it does let me do the organizing, the getting-out-of-bed-everyday, the managing people and helping them thrive, the getting people helpful information things that I do need to do so I feel like I am useful, even if various people in my life who have notions of class and of wealth have said aloud and unspoken (but may as well have said it aloud) that I could do better.
I don’t care if I can do better, because I want to do this — even if they meant well (and they did, even as their expectations and disapproval hurt my feelings), what comes across is that I’m making bad choices. I’m not— I’m just making different ones than they would. This is right for me now. The bookstore is home– HOME in a way where we laugh and are brothers and sisters in arms in customer service, retail research librarians who find people things they sometimes don’t know they need. So if my “I was burnt out from practicing law” is a cognate for “I am bipolar and had a complete nervous breakdown,” and “I take a neurological medication that affects my appetite” is the explanation when everyone fusses at me for why I don’t eat, well. Nobody’s fooled, but nobody presses, except for an occasional “relax” or a joke when I’m really stressed. And everyone eats my baked (not burnt) offerings with glee, and if I can make my coworkers smile or a customer, too– yes. I have chosen the right path. Not the rich path. The right path.
Here’s to wishing that every one of you brave, crazy hearts finds some home workplace some day.